ROCHESTER, Minn. – Tensions between Mayo Clinic and food service workers part of the union SEIU Healthcare Minnesota seem to be reaching an all-time high.
As we’ve reported, Mayo officials announced a plan to transition nearly 700 dietary workers to Morrison Healthcare. Since the announcement, clinic officials have met with SEIU representatives for five bargaining sessions.
One of SEIU’s goals is to ensure that the workers remain employees of Mayo Clinic. They have presented two proposals that would allow dietary workers to maintain their employment relationship with Mayo, but both proposals have been rejected.
KIMT News 3 spoke to SEIU Healthcare Minneosta’s President Jamie Gulley, who says rejecting the second proposal is, “not the most surprising thing that happened,” during the most recent bargaining meetings on Monday and Tuesday.
According to Gulley, dietary workers challenged Mayo on their reasoning for making the change.
In statements, a spokesperson from Mayo has said that while they are proud of the hard-working food service staff, the current food service model is not meeting the needs of the patients and customers, and that satisfaction surveys frequently cite food service as an area for improvement. However, according to Gulley, that is not consistent with what employees have been told. He says that satisfaction scores that have been made available to employees are in the 80-90 percent range.
“We think that any implication that our service has been anything less than excellent is sort of insulting. We’ve asked Mayo to explain the discrepancy between their public statements and the scores that we’ve seen in the departments and we have yet to get an answer.”
We reached out to Mayo Clinic about these claims and received the following statement.
The data referenced by SEIU provides an incomplete picture. It’s an internal pulse survey and only includes 367 responses at one site based on more than 195,000 food service interactions in a quarter across our patient food service operations in Rochester – a very small number of responses.
Mayo Clinic relies on an external organization to give it a more accurate picture of its food service operations. This data, which represents 11 Mayo sites, is collected by Press Ganey, a patient experience measurement service that surveys our patients on a regular basis, and shows an overall satisfaction level of around 51 percent for our food service operations – based on thousands of responses as illustrated below.
Patient satisfaction scores was only one of several factors in our decision to transition our food service operations. Mayo Clinic will continue to negotiate in good faith with the unions and we are confident that we will find a solution that is in the best interests of the food service workers and our patients.
Additional information about the need for this change and the benefits being offered food service employees can be found at foodservicefacts.mayoclinic.org.
Two more bargaining meetings are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday of next week. In the meantime, Gulley says SEIU will be meeting with employees to figure out a “pathway forward.”